Day 4: Pamplona – Mañeru: 18 miles
Tuesday, September 13, 2016: Departed: 6:20am, Arrived 2:00pm
Leading up to our Camino, Kim and I talked with a number of people we knew who had done the Camino. When one of them suggested that we would often be waking up before sunrise and walking in darkness, I rather scoffed at the idea (Why would I get up so early, and walk when you can’t see the scenery?). What I did not know is that many of the pilgrim albergues institute curfews where they lock the doors at 10:00pm and shut off all the lights, forcing you to sleep much earlier than you would have otherwise. Nor did I account for the fact that you don’t sleep in your own private bubble, oblivious to the commotion of other pilgrims around you. So in Pamplona, when others started getting up and rustling around making noise, I felt awake and alert, like I should be getting up too, rather than pretending to sleep, even though it was only 5:30am. So we got up and got ourselves ready and were out the door at 6:30am, an hour before sunrise.
Fortunately, as Pamplona is a fairly amplified city, we walked the first kilometers under urban street lights and did not need our headlamps. By the time we exited the developed part of the city, there was ample twilight to see. We had a few sprinkles at sunrise, enough to pull our waterproof shells over our backpacks, but not enough to get us wet. It felt quite refreshing actually and made for some very beautiful morning skies.
This was our first day to “break ranks” with our guide book. It breaks the Camino down into 33 days, recommending certain cities/towns to sleep at, although there are many other towns with albergues and pensiones to stay at along the way, roughly every 3-5 miles, giving you the flexibility to shorten or extend days. Since we’re hoping to do the Camino in 28 days, then we’ll obviously need to walk a faster timeline than the book. So when we reached Puente de la Reina, the suggested overnight stop, we merely made it a lunch stop, then walked over its medieval bridge and continued on the way.
We’ve been a little nervous about how busy the Camino has been, that some of the lodging options in the towns have completely filled up, leaving people stranded or forced to walk to the next town. So when we showed up at Mañeru, with only a few lodging options with limited beds, we were happy to find that Albergue “El Cantero” had plenty of beds, and that we were in fact some of the first pilgrims to show up that day, even though we had walked a greater distance than most of them.
The town is quite small and very quiet. After showering and freshening up and checking up on the days emails/work, and waiting out a rain storm that we were glad NOT to be walking in, we walked all of Mañeru’s main streets and little plazas (done in 5 minutes, with nothing open) and then found ourselves with considerable down time before the pilgrim’s dinner at 7:30. It’s refreshing to have so little to do in a peaceful village, and a nice contrast to the party/festival vibe of Pamplona. Looking forward to the variety of towns we’ll stay at along the way!